Thomas Knyvett (c. 1539-1616) was a member of an important East Anglian landowning family who lived at Ashwellthorpe, Norfolk. He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth I in 1578 and became High Sheriff of Norfolk the following year. This portrait was painted in about 1569, when Thomas was an ambitious young courtier, married to Muriel Parry, daughter of Thomas Parry, comptroller of the Queen’s household. Knyvett is portrayed with his wrist casually resting on his sword hilt - this highlights his right to bear arms, an important signifier of social status. He is fashionably dressed in a white doublet slashed to reveal a ‘blackwork’ embroidered shirt beneath. The painting is unsigned but because of its distinctive style it has been attributed to an artist known as the ‘Master of the Countess of Warwick’, who was active in England in the later 1560s, and probably came from the Netherlands.
Master of the Countess of Warwick Sir Thomas Knyvett About 1569 © Compton Verney